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Facebook debuts Messenger Lite, the slimmer sibling to the Messenger app

Facebook Messenger just went on a diet and it is all to the benefit of users with slower internet speeds and older Android smartphones. On Monday, the social media platform debuted Messenger Lite, a no-frills version of the popular messaging app that is described as a “slimmed down version” of the app, offering just “the core features of Messenger.”

With emerging markets becoming an increasingly important space for tech companies and their services, it is no wonder Facebook is targeting countries that are not quite as advanced when it comes to connectivity and hardware. While users would still be able to “quickly and easily send text, photos, and links to anyone using Messenger or Messenger Lite,” the new app would take up much less space on a smartphone, and work with much weaker network conditions. “Messenger Lite was built to give people a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use or have access to,” Facebook engineering manager Tom Mulcahy wrote in the blog post announcement.

One major difference between Facebook Lite and its heavier, older sibling comes in the form of voice calls. While you can currently place outgoing calls on the standard version of Messenger, you will not be able to do the same thing in the Lite version. But given that 300 million people already use Messenger for voice calling, there is little doubt that this is one feature Facebook will want to roll out to all versions of its popular app.

Super lightweight at just under 10MB — 95 percent smaller than the full version of the app — Facebook Lite promises to be both quick to install and start up. As of Monday, the app is available to users in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela. Facebook promises that more countries will be added in coming months.